Latest Updates on Real Estate in Lebanon

Real Estate in Lebanon has experienced some severe contrasting periods. In the early 90’s, the real estate sector pulled up the entire economy through intensive programs of reconstruction set by the government and other private institutions. New buildings were popping up across the whole country.

This positive impact of the real estate sector on the Lebanese economy was challenged during the last few years. The vast majority of residential buildings that were constructed during the last ten years were aimed at high-end customer’s level coming mainly from the Gulf, while internal demand was oriented towards medium standing apartments and properties. Since the external demand, mainly coming from Arabs in the Gulf region was increasing in volume, this has led to a sharp increase in real estate prices. This is not anymore the case especially for the last couple of years. The external demand has stabilized adding to that the government endorsement of laws limiting the percentage of properties that can be sold to foreigners. The real estate market is not flooded by liquidity as it was the case few years ago, and prices are expected to stay stagnant at least for the coming two to three years. Many positive signs are emerging in this period.

The real estate sector is being managed now by more professional institutions. This represents a major switch for this industry where traditionally families run mainly this sector. The best illustration is that investors are now conducting market research and feasibility studies prior to actual constructions. This was not the case 10 years ago.

Another positive sign is the return of international investors to downtown Beirut. Virgin, Ericsson and almost all financial institutions in the country have their headquarters there. The major effort that has been made by the country to attract investors is now bearing fruit.

This success is not surprising; Lebanon has many benefits for large corporations. Its location makes it an ideal gateway to the Middle East and the quality of life can meet the expats’ expectations and facilitates their implementation.

Beyond that, the banking laws are favorable for foreign companies wishing to locate in the region. The future may be considered as promising. Several major projects are now under construction. In Beirut downtown, a chain reaction is expected and which can be explained as follows: the more the number of multinational companies move to downtown Beirut, the more the multinational companies will want to locate their offices there. This is not just applicable to the city center; this fact also affects the surrounding neighborhoods.

The real estate market in Lebanon has experienced as well a dramatic rise in terms of the investments that have been injected into it. These investments come from Arabs, expatriates, and foreign investors.

Across the whole Arab region, the real estate sector in Lebanon has received the majority of Arab and foreign investments with a big boost in demand on the it properties in Lebanon.

The real estate market in Lebanon was the primary recipient of all Arab investments and constituted 80 percent of such investments.

Beirut, once considered the “Pearl of the Orient” is now ranked the most expensive city in the Middle East and Africa, ahead of Dubai, Istanbul and Johannesburg.

California Real Estate Recovery 2012

The National Association of Homebuilders just released a report listing US housing markets showing measurable and sustained improvement from their respective market troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. This latest report includes 73 metro areas that held their position on the list from last month as well as 11 new metro areas.

It’s speculated that the modest improvement in this improving market index indicates that individual housing market are regaining their footing despite some recent reports of weakening in the broader economy.

Now, for an inside take on this report, which I estimate the vast majority of news outlets won’t mention.

Think about it, or better yet do a search on Google for the National Association of Homebuilders Improving Market Index. I would bet the majority of the articles that you come across will only mention the fact that the index has improved and not go into detail by looking at the individual metro areas delineated in this report. It’s somewhat sad that the majority of news, or what is called news, is just a republishing of press releases.

Where does one go to get a realistic view of the current national or local real estate trends? Usually, the national real estate industry outlets are always optimistic and in most cases overly so. Local real estate professional sites and blogs suffer from the same over optimism.

But, I digress, so, back to a look at the individual markets noted in the National Association of Homebuilders Improving Market Index, of the 84 metro areas listed, just one is in California!

That one area in California is Hanford CA. Hanford is located south of Fresno California and it is an important commercial and cultural center in the south central San Joaquin Valley and is the county seat of Kings County, California.

So, with just one California Metro area listed in the improving market index, which state do you think came in with the most improving metro listings? Did I hear anybody say Texas? Well if you did, you are correct! Texas metro areas are the most prominent on the current National Association of Homebuilders current list. Texas metro areas came in with 11 listings of the 84 on the entire list!

Oh, by the way, do you know that Texas has no state income tax? Do you think that less taxes may just have something to do with improving economic conditions? What effect do you think the new you California tax proposal, up for a vote this November, if passed, will have on the California housing market?